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The New Children’s Hospital May Impact Jobs + Nutrition

Pre-Prepared Steamed NHS Hospital Meal

I agree totally that the children’s hospital coming to the James’s campus is great for the area and will lead to regeneration, investment and employment. My issue lies with hospital management who have been looking to bring in ready cooked meals from the UK as a cost cutting exercise, since long before the new children’s hospital was planned, and are now using this as the perfect opportunity to outsource the catering facility.

While hospital management have stated that nobody will lose their job as a result of this, if you have trained for 3 years to be a chef and are now being told that you are no longer required to cook but you can retrain as a healthcare assistant, to me that person is losing their job despite the spin that’s put on it.

In the current economic in Ireland it just seems unbelievable that rather than find a local solution the best management can come up with is to import ready made meals from England. All the companies which currently supply food and packaging to St. James are going to lose a big contract. Some jobs will probably be lost at these companies, and the money these companies make will now leave the country.

A couple of years ago when Tallaght Hospital’s kitchen was out of action after a fire, St. James’ took on extra work to supply the food. Most hospital kitchen are an under used resource with hundreds of thousands euro’s of equipment lying idle for a large part of the day. Two separate shifts in Tallaght could supply the food for both James and Tallaght hospitals. If the HSE was forward thinking they could build a site and provide the food for all Dublin Hospitals from there. But unfortunately it seems to be a race to the bottom where the cheapest option is the way to go and when this happens it is the patient who loses out.

Currently in James their are two catering assistants on a ward and they are able to spend time with the patient and build up a rapport, help the patient at mealtime if required but with the steamplicity model in the UK there is only one person per ward and that personal contact with the patient doesn’t happen, you give them the meal and move on to the next patient. I’m not saying the catering in James in perfect but the majority of staff go out of their way for the patient but unfortunately the patient doesn’t seem to be managements number one concern anymore.

IMAGE: Pre-Prepared Steamed NHS Hospital Meal – image credit: JayneAndD/Flickr

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13 Responses

  1. ashley keeley says:

    I would just like to say thank you to ta person or persons responsable for bringing tis issue to peoples attentsion ,im one of the eight chefs that work in St james , we ar ment to be cooking in a cook chill system , thats y ter is only eight of us, but now we also cook fresh foods for ta restaurant, we cater for about 1,500 a day patients and staff.We as a small group of people dont feel our voices ar been heard.St, james staff ar not the only people this will affect ,the likes of small bussiness that deliver there products example meats, veg, dairy,fish ar but a few tis will affect . will they have to let staff go as a result of tis so more people out of work here and ship the money and the work over to the u.k is this ter only option?.If this is allowed to happen in the biggest hospital in Ireland wats next?.THANK YOU again and i hope more people ar as out raged as us.

  2. cathal says:

    It’s unbelievable in this day and age that the hospital is going outsource catering and import over 700,000 meals per year from steamplicity in the UK as part of a cost cutting exercise. Another couple of million euro a year leaving this economy to add on to Compass groups revenue which was just under 12 billion last year!!! Don’t worry about the current local suppliers who will struggle even more when this happens. Madness.

  3. I absolutely agree with everything in the article, and the comments too! I gave people those meals for years in NHS hospitals. Many patients didn’t appreciate them, and some made comments about them either not being the most nutritious food, or appealing. You could tell that some felt that they would not be a help in aiding their recovery. They are not 100% fresh, and they also don’t look the most appealing at times. Some very sick people already need encouragement to eat, and that just makes it harder.

    I think that maybe opening up local dialogue about these issues (the de-employment/re-employment and the hospital meals), may help to inform. And as a nation, we do really need to chat about how we help people to get better, and their nutrition plays a large part in that. As does patient contact, which will be impacted hugely if Cathal is right in what he is saying about the changes.

  4. christina goucher says:

    Appalling that should not be allowed to happen this needs to be brought to a wider audience joe duffy maybe? Then maybe something could be done about it when there is an outcry of anger from the public

  5. Ive left a comment on the Liveline FB page, so maybe they will take note! Maybe someone will ring in too. This has been the busiest page on the site for the past couple of days, so it is generating interest!
    It really would be nice to hear people talk about hospital meals, and disect the current quality/nutrition levels in hospital cooked meals, and in pre-prepared steamed/etc. meals. It would be interesting to also hear about any potential improvements that may exist. Would be nice to hear that conversation, with some nutritional data comparing different methods…

  6. Gerry K says:

    Crazy way the government was going to do this! Tnx for getting this into public. People need to know. People should eat fresh food when in hospital!!!

  7. ashley keeley says:

    its great to see the amount of interest about this issue but more needs to be done tell your friends and family im sure there is at least one member of every family out there that works in the health service keep this going we need to be heard maybe joe duffy could address this issue please like and share yyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  8. Stephen, D8 says:

    Kitchens should stay in D8, or in Dublin at least. Theres lots of derelict buildings that could be used!!!!!

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  10. valerie says:

    Where does one start there will be a great loss not only the staff working in the kitchens or on the wards. Have they taken into consideration the amount of job losses in this country? Starting with the farmers who either plant and harvest the crops or breed and slaughter the animals right up to the facory work where all the preparation and packaging is done and not forgetting the delivery services!! I favour the idea of the Children`s Hospital amalgamation with James`s but not with the idea of bringing in ready cooked meals from outside our country. Our voices should be heard and our jobs should be kept.

  11. angelina says:

    all these foods that are coming from england, surely if the hospital is opting for this well its a cost saving matter but what cost can you put on life, this food is going to have so many preservatives and obviousty a hell of a lot cheaper especially as they are importing in from another country, i can only imagine the amount of preservatives that has gone into this shit , patients need fresh food, now i know the hospitals do have to used some packet goods but thats because of he sheer volume of patients, but u cant take the chef’s job away, and replace with some already made up meals which as i said will have to have so many preservatives and E numbers, its just bad for the patients, the one good thing is the job aspect , but then again all i see getting jobs are people who are already related to the people who already work there, i have tried 5 times, kept on sending in my cv and i have loads of experience in the field of what they were looking for, im young fit and healty, and at one stage i was told i had the job and then boom nothing, so i cant see anyone getting a job if u have to be fucking related to the staff who works there, , the whole lot of this idea just pisses me right off

  12. tom says:

    well what can I say, I have both experience in this field, Hospital food should be sourced to one central point, it would be cheeper for the H.S.E to have a main building that can cook dishes that can be sent out to all the hospitals in one day, if all the hospitals were having the same dish trough out it would save on costs, and the food would be of a better quality trough out, and can be traced back to the source if the food wasn’t up to the plate, there are to many mangers in these catering departments, they are making jobs names for these people, plating manger, quietly insurance manger, catering manger, ass catering manger, production manger, head chef, ass head chef, the list goes on, we need to have a look at the way we can save our health system because if this is happen in a catering departments theirs no hope of getting a proper health service, we need these people gone, food made in bulk checked and set recipes for dishes how we don’t the food were getting in hospitals, sick people cant eat currys, dishes with lashing of gravy over it, taste less food, we need to act now to get the children’s hospital right, I don’t agree with buying the food from the uk, you have large catering company’s out there all ready doing it, but yes we do need chefs trained in healthy cooking with the use of best ingredients, and who can cook with people with dietary needs, this can be done, there are patients in hospital all around this country who ask there visitors to bring them in food, just check the different hospitals reviews, if we can use a cook chill system in hospitals then lets bring it to a main production centre the kitchen can be working 24 hours a day none stop, we need to stop all this waste of food in hospitals, waste of money, and all these people who have jobs just to look good, does it not say something when you have all these mangers and the sick people still cant eat the poor quality of food, who dose the checking of the food, were does the book stop, we need away forward, the catering staff on the ward can only do so much, they cant make the food taste any better, and yes they do try there best in helping people to eat, again the catering staff on the wards get the bad end, so lets hope something can be done with catering in hospitals, as it does not pay for every hospitals cooking different food each day, lets have the same dish on the same day throughout the country and on a 3 week menu plan,

  13. tom says:

    hospital food

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